RNLI lifeboat

Norfolk Coast Art

RNLI is of course the main charity in charge of lifeboats and rescues. There are around 350 lifeboats in the UK and Ireland (plus 108 relief lifeboats) which cost a huge amount of money to build, and another £1500 or so to train each lifeboat volunteer. It is also responsible for using salaried lifeguards on around 240 beaches, which in 2022 saved around 117 lives. Like all big charity, there is a paid Chief Executive but he has chosen not to accept annual pay increases nor other allowance (he doesn’t drive a company car!)

What you may not know is that RNLI volunteers risk their lives to help those stranded in the English channel, if crossing the waters in desperate circumstances. They don’t like the nasty politics, and respond to any criticism that for 200 years they have helped anyone in trouble, and aren’t going to change policy, simply due to right-wing media skewing the truth on why people risk their lives to cross the channel. They are lifeboat crew, not politicians.

famous lifeboat rescues

Henry Blogg and Monte

Henry Blogg is known as one of the most humble yet best lifeboat crew members ever. A quiet man who never got over the tragedy of losing his two children while young, there is a museum in Cromer (Norfolk) dedicated to his many rescues. He saved 873 lives (including a large dog from the sinking ship Monte Nevoso in 1932 – he adopted him and named him Monte and they became best friends, according to his wife).

The seas near many areas in England can be treachorous. In 1981, all 8 volunteeer lifeboat men were killed along with the crew of the coaster vessel they were trying to save (which ran aground after seawater got into the fuel tank). Today the village of Mousehole (Cornwall) has a local train named after the boat’s crew. Within one day, local volunteers had formed a new lifeboat crew.

Grace Darling Museum

On the island of Lindsfarne (Northumberland), there is a free museum dedicated to the local legend Grace Darling, a 10-0ar lifeboat built in 1865. The boat was named after she heroically rescued survivors of a vessel  that wrecked on the nearby Farne Islands, travelling from Hull to Dundee. Half the ship sank in 15 minutes with many people (including children) dying, and from the local lighthouse, Grace saw the wreck and spotted survivors on rocks. She and her father rowed out in strong winds and rescued five people, then she stayed behind to (with her mother) look after them, while her father and three other men rowed back to rescue the others. Sadly she died just 4 years later of TB (receiving the best medical care at Alnwick Castle, on instructions of the Duchess of Northumberland).

The town of Salcombe is situated on the South Devon coast, with some of the best weather in England and glorious sandy beaches (check before visits, as some beaches have seasonal dog bans). A very affluent area, there are many million pound homes that (like areas of Cornwall) lay empty most of the year), while local people can’t afford to buy, due to being priced out of the market. In 1916 the Salcombe lifeboat (an open rowboat back then) capsized and 13 of the 15 crew lost their lives, yet immediately a new crew as formed and continues to this day. The original lifeboat station is now a museum.

never release fire lanterns

Not only do these cause wildfires, but they get mistaken for coastal flares, and unnecessarily create coastguard calls, which then risk lifeboat lives to go out to save people who do not exist.

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